by Christopher Harbin

Freed to Extend Our Freedom
Christopher B. Harbin
Mark 5:21-34

We like to think of freedom during this week of July. Our fireworks displays and patriotic displays will lend credibility to the theme of a nation founded on principles of ''freedom and justice for all.'' We will wave our flags, enjoy our cookouts, apple pie, watch fireworks, and celebrate the blessings we have come to enjoy and associate with the birthright of every citizen of the United States of America. For many, the celebration will end on this theme. Some will look a little further and wonder about the responsibilities that come with our freedoms.

The Jews in the First Century found themselves embroiled in a national heartfelt desire for freedom from the oppression they faced at the hands of Rome. Well, some were not as concerned, like the Sadducees who benefitted from their alliance with Rome. For them, embracing the political realities brought a share of wealth, power, prestige, and a comfortable living. That was all they really cared about.

For the vast majority, however, throwing off the yoke of Roman oppression was a constant theme of life. It filtered down into the visible presence of Roman troops, especially during periods of religious festivals. It came to the fore as the people were pressed into service to carry a Roman soldier's pack for a mile down the road. It surfaced when it came time to pay taxes that were unrelated to one's ability to meet the demands placed upon the masses. It was visible in the circulated coinage stamped with the image of Rome's elite and their gods.

The people yearned for freedom. The people yearned for release from oppression. They recalled the exodus from Egypt in generations past and yearned for the coming of Messiah. He was to come and throw off their yoke of oppression. He should grant them the power they saw wielded in Roman sword and spear. They wanted release. They desired change. They sought a renewal of the exodus. They yearned for free ...

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